The Dark Matter Debate –“A Totally New Exotic Form of Matter?” (Today’s Most Popular)





We owe a lot to dark matter – it is the thing keeping galaxies, stars, our solar system, and our bodies intact. Yet no one has been able to observe it, and it has often been regarded as a totally new exotic form of matter, such as a particle moving in extra dimensions of space or its quantum version, super-symmetry.

"We have seen this kind of particle before. It has the same properties – same type of mass, the same type of interactions, in the same type of theory of strong interactions that gave forth the ordinary pions, which are responsible for binding atomic nuclei together. It is incredibly exciting that we may finally understand why we came to exist," said Hitoshi Murayama this past July. He's Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo.




The image above is an artist's impression of dark matter distribution. Left image assumes conventional dark matter theories, where dark matter would be highly peaked in small area in galaxy center. Right image assumes SIMPs, where dark matter in galaxy would spread out from the center.

The new theory predicts dark matter is likely to interact with itself within galaxies or clusters of galaxies, possibly modifying the predicted mass distributions. "It can resolve outstanding discrepancies between data and computer simulations," says Eric Kuflik, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University. University of California, Berkeley postdoctoral researcher Yonit Hochberg adds, "The key differences in these properties between this new class of dark matter theories and previous ideas have profound implications on how dark matter can be discovered in upcoming experimental searches."

The next step will be to put this theory to the test using experiments such as CERN's Large Hadron Collider and the new SuperKEK-B, and a proposed experiment SHiP.

The image at the top of the page from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the rich galaxy cluster Abell 3827. The strange blue structures surrounding the central galaxies are gravitationally lensed views of a much more distant galaxy behind the cluster. Observations of the central four merging galaxies have provided hints that the dark matter around one of the galaxies is not moving with the galaxy itself, possibly implying dark matter-dark matter interactions of an unknown nature are occurring.

The Daily Galaxy via  Kavli IPMU

Image credits: Kavli IPMU – Kavli IPMU modified this figure based on the image credited by NASA, STScI; Top of page Nasa/ESA/European Southern Observatory

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